Wow! I’ve forgotten so much about teaching, but the NorthStar rising 7th graders helped me to remember, painfully at times. This, in addition to publicly admitting that 30 years ago I started teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles. Another pain point!
I remember my first group of learners, 4 years old, as being curious and quiet. Once they trusted me, the noise level rose but so did their level of engagement. I found myself going into school earlier each day so I could create new learning centers and activities for them. I don’t remember their disrespect or annoyance, but that could have been their age, or mine!
The group of learners I just taught were 10 years older and much more hidden from me. They didn’t seem to care about what I said, or what innovation I shared or what their neighbor told them about the internet of things, all that mattered was feigning apathy, or so it seemed to me. My colleagues at work encouraged me that this age of learner just wants to act cool, actually attending to the teacher makes you uncool. Nancy, my boss, explained that if I can gain their trust, let them know that I care about them, I should consider my time with them a success. This is new learning for me.
As I’m processing this to prepare for the next delivery, I’m thinking of ways to incorporate a faster pace and delivery of content, use music effectively and engage the learners who are interested, allowing the others to go sit on the sidelines. To me, much of this goes against what I believe as a teacher. So, I’m changing my own paradigms, not an easy or desirable task!
And I guess this is what hurts the most, I'm not sure this past group of learners know that I did care about them learning. How do you share your heart when the disdain and disrespect is the strongest emotion in the room?